Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Dungeon Fantasy Box Set Challenges.

My Dungeon Fantasy Box Set Arrived.
I bought D&D starter set and essentials for my son and myself.
I have more Material as a GURPS GM to Run Mines of Phandelver (D&D5E Starter Set) and Dragon of Ice Spire Peak (D&D5E Essentials Set) as Dungeon Fantasy Game. I bought this out of Curiosity than the Intent to Play. The problem is that I don't know what to expect till I have it in my hands and able to directly observe the contents and the challenges.

It's Not Really immediately ready to Play. I'm sure a GM with more practice and ready materials has enough already prepared material to quickly get people to play.
I would say that assuming I'm talking to D&D Players, it would take about 5+ hours for me to prepare. This would include the following:

  1. Studying the Sample Adventure. 1 hour. This include notes, where I typically try to predict my players and imagine how I'm going to introduce or execute the scene. 
  2. Writing the Action list for Character Gen. 1 hour. I need to do for creating Preparation for the Players and Imagining or having a "flashback" of all the problems typical of Character Creation. Including the Decisions Paralysis, a lot of Options would generate. 
  3. Reviewing all the Options wholistically, budgeting for a 4-hour game. 1 hour. Mentally rehearsing all the things that will happen in the game, and then writing my assumptions so the "me" in the next day will see how stupid and short-sighted that was. 
  4. (Next Day). Executing the Action List and the Adventure Notes.  4 hours (2-3 nights of free time). Prioritizing the 20/80 Pareto and Know what to prioritize. 
  5. Pregame Prep and Rehearsal. 90 mins. 

Expected Material to Make (Item numbers 1 and 2).
  1. A5 prints out portable rules. *
    1. Character Gen. 
      1.  Dungeon Fantasy on the Cheap by Eric B. Smith in A5/Statement would be very useful when cleaned up. Estimate about 1.5 hours. Modificaitons are.
        1. Keep to "essential" Professions. Wizard, Rogue, Cleric, and Warrior. 
    2. Options, Actions, and Rolls.  Using my old GURPS lite notes, about 1.5 hours. 
      1. The checklist would be Physical, Mental, Technical and Social Rolls. 
    3. Basic Combat. (good thing I have a lot of Material). (Note the number of Processes in GURPS is staggering, but its internal logic and pattern to realism makes its learnable. Its just such a high upfront cost. ). 2-3 hours or 2 nights. 
  2. Pregenerated Characters based on Mines of Phandelver Pregen. 
  3. List of Skills. 30 mins. (easier now that I have a Google Sheet I can pivot and Filter). 
  4. List of Equipment. (Using my Old Notes and Material) 30 mins. (GURPS Stuff in GSHEETS to pivotable and filterable would be so 

*No "GURPS Medium" when I check E23. I'm surprised they didnt make the Print-on-Demand of the Lighter Exploits and Adventurers. 

In house Game Notes.

Currently, my Strategy would be Fantasy Trip and when the Players want more immersion to creep towards GURPS Dungeon Fantasy. 

Realistically, Scheduling such a Game would happen in about  Late Feb. Because of taking a leave to study on Dec means I have a lot of Catch-up Work on Jan.

Everything is measured in "Nights of Free time". 

Thursday, December 26, 2019

Aging Tinkering Gamer and Skills

Skill is a concept that keeps changing year to year in my life. Although we are being introduced to skills early in life, it is through games where I see the implications of mastery.

Before my understanding of skills is that its these discrete corpora of knowledge: like "Management," "Leadership," "Diplomacy," etc... I believed that, over time and practice, these discrete corpora would allow me to perform greater and higher levels of mastery. I would have a more difficult challenge, and my mastery will allow me to overcome these. In Management, I can handle more problematic organizations, in Leadership more demoralized people, and Diplomacy more complex issues.

But I was wrong. Skills are not discrete corpora, but we learn a vast amount of small skills like "Sarcasm" (a kind of framing), "truth sandwich," "next action," (131 tools and techniques in PMBOK, )etc...  and that we use all these different tools and ingredients to create specific results. We don't have the Large Overwhelming Problems; we can break down all problems into smaller and smaller components. The problematic organization in a Management problem has a root cause and will require an adaptive lifestyle approach. The issue of morale and behavior in an organization can be a mixed bag of bad policy, bad culture, and conflicting incentives and penalties. It gets more complicated as Diplomacy can be confused with Leadership because there is a give-and-take with people.

For ease of understanding - our brains still think of skills in discrete corpora, but in actual daily use, our Skills are made up of many smaller skills. These lesser skills are mastered to the level of conditioned response or requiring minimal conscious effort. Mastery to not need any conscious effort allows us more complex feats since this mitigates the limitations of our working memory. When so much skill is in our Long Term Memory, that place in our mind beyond our Working and Conscious awareness, and we have a positive feedback loop going on with those skills, we seem to achieve FLOW.

It's not that there are Big Problems that require an Overwhelming Mastery of Skills. Its that there is a scarcity of Attention, Time, and Resources. In the Information Asymmetry of life, Prioritization is the Indommidable and Ubiquitous problem.  Our biggest problem can be fixed by a bunch of small skills, but it would take a lot of resources we don't have. That we juggle a lot of problems, and when we do we sacrifice the ability to solve deep thought problems.

These days I want to lose 2-4 hours just updating my definition of Skills. Either tinkering with D&D or GURPS, either simplifying or elaborating and categorizing these skills by their historical, economic, and social value.

Thanks to GURPS Fandom and =importHTML and google sheets fu, I was able to finally make that cleaned up list of GURPS Skills. I used PIVOT table to remove redundancies.

It is interesting to Listen to E. Goldraths Beyond the Goal, because his "unifying theory" for work and problem-solving compliments or supports any gamers unifying theory of World/Reality Mechanics.

If you have kids and if your kids use "Newb" "Pro" "God-Tier" to describe skills, they seem to get it. But even when my son has that understanding, his ability to overcome his anxiety regarding the work that goes into these skills seems to be my constant stumbling block. Its not that I cannot reframe and reword an argument, its that kids have a Finite window to change their mind. Once they lose patience they lock up their mindset. What I think I will discover as I spend more time with my son are the early indicators of his loss of patience and how to head these off.

Tuesday, December 24, 2019

Ordered Dungeon Fantasy and Fantasy Trip for Xmas

It does not make sense to order gaming when I'm obsessed with working and achieving financial security. But after meeting my friends and catching up on old times, I realize how hollow and empty I feel not being able to game and play. 

How do I fit in Gaming when I study about 30 hours a week, and Work 35 hours a week? The logical solution is to make the Gaming serve two purposes - Time with my Son and family and time for me. I'm sure you'll realize the amount of lost control that happens when you play with someone who may not be interested in gaming. 

Time with family is something I've neglected because of how hard work is. Juggling HSK and PMBOK, and laying the groundwork for RHEL Sys Admin, as well as the bringing the family business to more modern management Practices (reminds me of benefits of Quality Management - Leadership, Evidence-Based Decision Making, Process, Improvement, Relationship Management, Engagement of People, and Customer Focus). 

I miss hanging out with Friends and Gamers, but at the same time committing to having a family means those relationships take a back seat. In 2014 I realized that I spend about 20-30 hours a week doing game-related preparation. I realized I needed to migrate that to Studying to be able to ensure financial security for my family. After 5 years of prioritizing studying and duties, I've found the well dry. 

Anki/SRS will allow me to reduce my study hours by 1/3, from 30 to 20, but that won't happen immediately. I need to invest about 40-50 more hours to prepare my study material so its more efficient, and of course there are some Maintenance and Correction that happens as some concepts are challenging. PMBOK has about 800 concepts for me to master and memorize.  HSK needs that I master 1200 words and probably around a hundred grammar points to the point that I recognize it in less than a second and can hold those words and thoughts in my temporary memory for my brain to figure out so as to understand the Chinese. Still hoping to reach that moment where it begins to make sense even If I can't understand some of the words. (like in "Me talk pretty one day" 我一天希望说得好)my goal is still to be able to introduce Chinese people into TRPGs. Why master chinese to be able to run Games in Chinese by the time I'm 45? Whats the point? The Same point why i wanted to run a game in 19C philippines, 11C Crusades, Present Day Manila, and 6C BCE Warring States. 

I want to be the guy who was able to lay the ground work to be able to bring TRPGs to a culture whose values would be very Alien to TRPGs. I am aware how weird the set of goals I have regarding gaming. to Play, to run strange games, and to try very different things. 

I hope my Gamble pays off, That Melee and Wizard is more accessible. That my son would more likely be interested in Melee and play it with his friends. 

Wednesday, December 18, 2019

Hanging out and Catching up with Gaming Buddies

I was on study leave but I did the quick analysis of the likeliness I'll be able to see old friends again and It just doesnt compare. Also the wife has to remind me to be human sometimes.

These are the guys where the Games sounded like a Black Lagoon Episode a mix of incredible attention to detail of hardware, tactics and outrageous feats. From reading all the books they can get their hands on prior to the Youtube or Internet age making it all the more accessible. These were the older brothers I grew up with while I was gaming in College.

So being 40 and looking back at knowing many of them for about 20 years (meeting Bobby around early 2000 thanks to Henry and Jack). it's interesting to catch up and see how much I appreciate their advice and their perspective.

Bobby was who opened the possibility of doing Historical and Contemporary games. It was a BIG leap for me to play more modern games and other games outside D&D. Bobby was the one who told me about a book called "Anarchy of Families" as well as Filipinos at War by Carlos Quirino. Books that helped me get out of a very small world into a much larger and intimidating one - the real world and the fascinating messiness and inelegant anti-climax of History.

The habits of Research, Reading, Critical Thinking, and Analysis that helped me make sense of Work and Allowed me to Convert the Framework of Systems Thinking into something I use for my work in IT, Quality, Manufacturing, and Management. (https://tryingtogamework.blogspot.com/ is my blog where I continue applying my Gamer mindset in work and life).

These guys are also my Airsoft team, so not only did we Game, we took the Game to the Airsoft and tried to practice what we read about. I notice something about GURPS players of my generation - that they are so much into DIY and Experimentation - they are at home at HEMA or any Freethinking mindset where we challenged our knowledge or notions. Of course, the tradeoff is that we tend to spend too much time in these things as compared to more social or balanced endeavors. Our networking is not very good as a trade-off.

Being older, having our own kids, it is only natural that we want our kids to Game. I am worried if my Son doesn't take into TRPG he cannot overcome the negative Traits he inherited from me: the excitable or hypomanic tendencies that can crash our moods and make us feel very strong negative emotions. Gaming was a great coping mechanism for that trait and I'm definitely not resourceful enough to give my child a coping mechanism I don't have.

Bobby tells me not to worry. Of course, I still worry. I guess us gamers with our coping mechanism, we just want our kids to get it earlier to enjoy more things and develop the capabilities more - in ways we were not able to imagine when we learned them on our own.

Being able to Catch up reminds of the cost we pay when I prioritize work over friends. It really is damaging to the psyche and creates greater fatigue, and longer periods of rest. My slight hypomania shows when I sacrifice to sleep earlier and more but It doesnt give me any energy. The psychic cost of the sacrifice is now measurable. Still, even if I can now measure the effects, the solution should involve my family. Recovery time should also be quality time. Thats another puzzle to solve.

I can deny my Gamerness for so long but that ability to derive pleasure and recover and reinforce my sense of self atrophies along with it, and thus the ability to RECOVER and continue to endure the difficult reality of the world weakens when I lose that part of me. 

I'm not looking forward at the painful cost benefit analysis of Getting Fantasy Trip all the way from the USA as an experiment of getting my TRPG back on.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Techniques - and how it relates to our Internal Worlds.

I compensate a lot using SRS and my obsessiveness of writing my flawed understanding. Going through a thought again and again. Be it a regret, guilt, or a puzzle, the attention we give to a pattern of firing neurons just makes those neurons fire together.

Yes and... and Framing techniques. 

In describing framing techniques I used the following:
"the skill to use the same facts and cause people to interpret the information differently. The understanding of framing technique means the person framing will keep the facts true, but exercise the empathy to see how people can interpret it differently because of their biases."
A lot of the techniques is through Muscle Memory and Practice. Framing is knowing and consciously keeping the facts the same, just allowing for the messiness of Biases to allow the same facts to interpreted differently (the TGC series on Law School for Everyone just gave a lot of Examples of such messiness about Interpretation of Information).

"Yes and..." is related to Framing because you take the Same FACTS but spin it or interpret it differently or spin with it.

The exercise of the Technique allows me to easily identify the "opening" and the way Problem Statement (and a similar technique E. Goldrat uses when describing Technology by what Limitations it manages) our minds automatically realize the solution when we have defined the problem.
It's one of those Interesting Techniques where we don't know how our brain does it, but our minds just does its thing.

Its a Hobby, but some people obsess over their hobby. People obsess over Intellectual Property Lore of a particular Franchise. It's not a bad thing, it's just how our brains are wired and it does have drawbacks and these are the reasons why mindfulness has gained popularity as a coping mechanism.

Every technique we use in Running and playing the game to be Defined and Laid bare, for feedback and scrutiny. having our personal definitions laid bare for things in our imagined world is one of the aspects of TRPGs that it has prepared me for. My definition of Elves, or "In my Traveller Universe" is another mental landscape to visit - that helps us expand and enrich our own Internal Worlds.

My Conflict is that I should be Studying CAPM and HSK right now, but my brain wants to discuss each detail of the Technique it uses so it can find peace and forget the techniques to make space for essential skills for economic Survival. 

Its interesting repurposing the Mindscape of a GM for work. How much is strengthened and how much is improved by finding the other application areas of the knowledge.

Sunday, December 15, 2019

Organizing by Techniques and Mechanics

150428 Gaming Ideas Repository
Thinking out loud.

13 or younger player may have problems learning to a TRPG. Particularly as I'm experimenting teaching my 8 yr old son to like TRPGs when devices and games are easier and more attractive to their attention.

What if I break a basic system into two elements: mechanics and techniques?

Combat, roll dice to see what happens, social mechanics, etc...  Are mechanics.
Then there are Techniques. Problem Statement, Yes and.., 5WH, 5Y, various Framing techniques, etc...
The reason is what should go into a basic TRPG? absolute beginner or someone who is going into trpgs systematically.

This is a carryover from when my brother and I were very systematic about how we played trpgs thinking about it as skills. Unapologetically copying practices from other GMs and experimenting with these practices.

I know the techniques and mechanics are pretty Subjective but with any skill system it's just need to be internally consistent even if it's assumptions will not carry over to a different POV.

Breaking up the elements of learning a TRPG by its mechanics (core, basic combat, character creation. Etc) and techniques (storytelling, public speaking, elevator pitch, pacing, tension, etc.) has some surprising efficiency.

Pro of this Approach

A pro of this system is a

  1. carryover of techniques to different games and some mechanics to different systems and games.
  2. a basic framework. Like every great artist copy to have a framework to start with, to advance means using that framework and tear it down and make a new one.

Cons of the Approach

  1. The con is the subjectivity and how academic it all sounds that will clash with people who see gaming as an art than a science.
  2. Its a very narrow audience, which is already a narrow audience (TRPGS). The amount of subjectivity can be demonstrated how everyone has a different definition of a set of skills and job descriptions, but another example is how groups like PMI, ABPM, ISO, IIBA, CompTIA, RHEL, Linux etc... all try to Standardize these. 

I don't intend to please everyone and part of gaming the feedback of having a system that has its own internal consistency. A call back to all those frustrating nights of preparation and experimentation. But giving the gamer the tools to orient themselves where they want to go by giving a sample set system and let their own tinkering take them to their desired end.

For those who just want a framework they have one, for those who want to reinvent they have a starting framework.

Other Challenges.

  1. How to list Prerequisites in a Field in a Table, and Link to each Item. 
    1. Example. I talk about Combat Pacing, but I want to Link Basic Pacing, Escalation, and Dangerous Escalation to Combat Pacing. How to I have a column in an Google Sheet that allows me to Link these entries to their text counter parts. Basically how do I allow that each Entry 
    2. This Problem Applies with Tags 
  2. Time and Motion. I only need to give a resource cost to a Skill, time to practice and develop and A Technique or Mechanic can become a Project Activity network Diagram or a Person who have a fixed budget of Time and Resouces can Plan how they will practice the skills and experiment with them. the problem arises in how to Visualize these all. 

Thursday, December 5, 2019

Concepts I re-learned reviewing the Starter and Essentials Set.

Concepts I re-remembered reviewing the Material.

  1. 3d6 Bell Curve. Rarer Extremes, more frequent near the Median. 
    1. The biggest change is that scores at the extremes, rolling a 15 or higher or a 6 or lower (rolling 3,4,5,6, 15, 16, 17, and 18) is at the 18.52% chance, compared to on a d20 rolling 1-5, and 15-20 is 50% of the time.
      1. Rolling on or higher than 15 is 25% with d20 and 5%  with 3d6.
    2. Less Gambling and More Calculated Risks. The behavior that results when their chance to roll a 10 vs an 18 means instead of hoping you will roll a 20, you assume the challenge is beyond you. This is a style of play for problem-solving and manages some of the Min-maxing behavior that would result because of the knowledge of the Probability. Knowing an 18 is below a 1% and rolling
    3. DC 10 + Proficiency Bonus + Ability Modifier has more relevance because the median is more frequent. In a bell curve distribution, your odds for a hard challenge goes down considerably, so you try to break down the task to smaller manageable tasks/wins.  
    4. https://anydice.com/?dice=4d6l3
  2. Core Mechanic - The Check or Roll. Basing the core Mechanic on Conflict and Uncertainty - Will he climb the wall? ...Persuade the mayor? ...Negotiate the Deal? 
    1. Key Techniques that Teach Players and GM how to Frame a Situation. What is the Challenge? How the Players or GM define if its a Check to Persuade, to Save, Analyze or Understand, to Take Actions that will have an effect on a much more complicated situation. 
    2. A Situation drives the Roll. This means the Players think in Uncertainty and Problems, the GM and Players think in Conflict and Tension. Is the Objective to HIT the mark, or the Objective to Solve the Problem. My problem with certain game mechanics is that I grew up with the “Hitting” the Target mindset and that doesn't lend well to Storytelling. 
  3. Techniques of Narrating Combat or Thrilling Pacing. The mental model of Combat is Attack someone - which is not the case and limits the imagination. Giving players and GMs the arsenal in narrating High Tension Fast Pacing conflicts or uncertainty is one of the things I wish can be tackled in a Starter TRPG. Breaking down the Inputs, Outputs, Tools, and Techniques that allow anyone to have the capability to narrate thrilling conflict. 
    1. It's in Law School for Everyone in TGC I was reminded of Storytelling Pacing. The lecture covered how a lawyer can Draw out a scene moment to moment to slow down time. Controlling the Audience’s Perception of Time is important in Storytelling - even if you’re just the Player but especially so if you’re the GM. 
    2. Speeding up time means knowing the Techniques and having followed attentively HEMA inspired Books and novels. To prevent this barrier it's possible to teach key concepts of biomechanics (and keywords and concepts to understand), but save this for more enthusiastic gamers who want to polish their fight narration. 
    3. Speeding up Time is also seeing the Consequences of the Action or the “Wake of the Action” letting the imagination fill in the details. To imply the action by describing the bleeding gash, the three steps back and their stunned form, and seeing the spear shaft break the rock barely missing the mark, but seeing suddenly the form collapsing. 
  4. The margin of Failure, GM never Rolls. This is the Difference of an NPC rolling “To hit” vs the GM asking for a “Save”? Both situations the PC is being attacked/threatened but the Dice and Agency is with the Player. With Bell-curve probability and better framing techniques, it would be faster if the GM would abstain from rolling. 
    1. No more Roll and Opposed Roll. Set the Targets/Value and let the dice resolve the Conflict. The only exception is rolling between Two Players, in a contested roll. 
    2. Holding the dice, making sure the player knows they can frame or narrate how they deal with the circumstance. Not in the simple binary of attack and defend.

Tuesday, December 3, 2019

D&D Starter and Essentials, a lot more work for my Target audience.

Bought the D&D Starter Edition and the Essentials Toolkit. My son is too young at 8, Turning 9 early next year.

  1. Kids  (below the target age of the material) need more Immersion Material. Good thing the Essential Kit has the Material my son needs - The cards and Maps. But it does need more and I'm wondering If I have a chance to prepare and find more, or how do I get him to slowly immerse week to week with our Dad and Son time. 
  2. Kids need smaller and more situational scenarios. Isolated set scenes to grasp the Core mechanic of "Roll in a situation" - so that the my son can grasp the Conflict of a Situation, as well as he has the power to Frame the Conflict, or Define the Problem (which Shapes the Solution). 
  3. Kids need more storytelling Prompts. It can be an hour just talking about the basic concepts of character creation to my son. With his cousins, I doubt I can cover it all in an hour. I need some activities that allow them to Prompt their storytelling. 
    1. Not necessarily Cards for every Prop. From Equipment to Character Features. Dont start with every bit of material - begin with Basic Outfit Packages. The soldier, the traveling tradesman, the pilgrim, etc... 
    2. Reminds me of Getting Once Upon a Time Card game, as part of this Box so that we can have some basic exercises. 
Now I remember why I spent 20+ hours a week in prep. I did a lot of prep because when the Game session happened and I wasn't prepared it would be 1 more week to correct the problem and it may lower the enthusiasm of players.